Quaker Valley girls soccer pleased with trip to postseason

Sunday, October 24, 2021 | 11:01 AM

The Quaker Valley girls focused firmly on one thing this soccer season.

“Our goal from the start was to make the playoffs, and the girls got that done,” said Maggie Behun, QV’s co-coach with Rachel Loudermilk. “We were able to win the games we needed to and our losses were all close and hard fought. We learned from those losses and adjusted.

“Our last section game was a tie against Avonworth, one of the strongest teams in our section. We think that shows what we’re capable of accomplishing and that we are hitting our stride at the right time.”

Quaker Valley’s girls soccer team ended up 4-5-1 in Section 1-2A, good for fourth place behind North Catholic (9-1), Avonworth (8-1-1) and Beaver (6-4).

“By going back to the basics and capitalizing on each player’s strengths, we’ve been able to execute more technical, tactical play,” Behun said. “We have seen great changes in the program thus far and look forward to participating in the playoffs. We’re ready.”

The Quakers (4-3-1) won four of eight games down the season’s home stretch and posted five shutouts during that span. They were scheduled to play No. 4 Elizabeth Forward on Tuesday.

QV’s game-day lineup has included seniors Chase Kriebel (forward), Eleanor Burns (midfielder), Anna Licasto (midfielder/defender) and Clare Elste (defender); junior midfielders Nikita Venkatasamy, Keira Currier, Tia Pethel and Nora Johns; sophomore defenders Mia Strelec and Megan Campbell; plus freshman prospects Mia Modrovich and Anna Hanley.

Junior Anjo Pagbeleguem is the starter at the goalkeeper position.

Two of the team’s reserves include midfielder/forward Bella Benge and forward Zea Juarez-Safran, both seniors.

Kriebel finished the regular season as QV’s leading goal-scorer, while Pagbeleguem was credited with eight shutouts.

“Our starting lineup changes game-by-game based on what players we have available and our opponent,” Loudermilk said. “For the playoffs, we want to take it one step at a time. We have a saying on our team: ‘Winning is fun. Let’s have fun.’ Especially with missing the playoffs last year due to covid, we’re excited to have a run this year.”

Quaker Valley’s soccer teams were absent from the WPIAL playoffs in 2020 because of coronavirus protocols. The QV girls had advanced to the postseason the previous four years.

“We encourage the girls to focus on activities on and off the pitch,” Behun said. “We’re particularly impressed with the family mentality and support the girls offer each other.

“We have had some girls really step up their play on the field this year and that has been really fun to watch. As a coaching staff we couldn’t be more pleased.”

Sewickley Academy

Despite experiencing a rebuilding campaign, Sewickley Academy’s girls soccer team narrowly missed qualifying for the WPIAL playoffs.

The Panthers finished with a 4-7-1 record in Section 4-A, as Eden Christian grabbed the fourth and final playoff berth at 4-6-2.

Bishop Canevin (11-0-1), Winchester Thurston (10-1-1) and Aquinas Academy (8-4) were the section’s top three teams.

“While we hoped to make the playoffs and gain that experience, we finished the season playing some of our best soccer,” SA coach Jessica Pelusi said. “With only three seniors graduating, Sewickley Academy girls soccer will be a strong playoff contender next fall.”

The Panthers’ lineup in 2021 included the likes of sophomore Cait Donohue, junior Jayne Miner and freshman Quincy Sirko at forward; senior Brooke Menzock, freshman Katherine Varghese, and juniors Sally Moravitz, Elena Mohan and Kaitlyn Hayden at the midfield area; with senior Aizah Kamal, juniors Rinnie Jardini and Isabella Capito, and sophomore Virginia Gaither on defense.

Maddie Miller, a junior, was the starting goalkeeper.

All varsity players actually saw playing time this year, including sophomores Layla Lombardo, Claudia Kronk and Kendall Sykes, and freshmen Amaya Snyder, Jade Rychel, Avni Kathju, Celia Helbling and Lauren Retzlaf.

Senior Ella Sanfilippo, junior Mary Grace Gordon and freshman Nora Faraci sat out for the season with injuries.

“We had a young and eager team that improved tremendously over the course of the season,” Pelusi said. “The foundation that was established this year will undoubtedly be the springboard for future success.”

SA ended up 5-9-1 overall.

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